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Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Today’s lunch, which I always feel brilliant for remembering each summer, was fresh vietnamese spring rolls which each of us could make ourselves.
Ideal for picky eaters, or at least the picky eater in our household, who loves just about every form of raw vegetable, loves to eat with her hands, and hates
sauces. Also, ideal for using up some raw vegetables while getting a break from salad, and making an entree out of foods you don’t have to cook.

The rice paper wrappers “cook” one at a time in a shallow bowl of hot water that you can heat up in the microwave.

The rest of the fillings can be entirely raw, though we also cooked some matchsticks of zucchini and spring turnip because they seemed like they’d go nicely but would be better cooked. It did add 5 minutes of frying pan heat to the kitchen, but that wasn’t so bad. (Guess who needed some zucchini raw for her plate, though?)

Our ingredients, spread out on several plates:
* sauteed matchsticks of zucchini and spring turnip
* plain tofu cut into thin rectangular strips
* Chinese cabbage cut into ribbons
* chopped scallion
* mint leaves from the backyard

We made a sweet sauce based on a jar of black bean sauce for the inside, and a sweet and sour sauce based on garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar to dip in, though we mostly poured that over our bites too because we’re not so great at rolling things up neatly. Tastes good anyway, and it’s fun to make your own rollups at the table!

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frozen vegetable stock

I like to make vegetable stock when I have more vegetables than I know what to do with, or something that’s getting a little long in the tooth.
I usually make 3-5 quarts at a time – once in a while a little more or even a little less.

This is my first batch where I planned for some of the vegetable scraps came from the freezer – leek greens, parsley stems, and celery tops, primarily. I’ll definitely be continuing to save these things in the freezer so I don’t need to have the full mix of vegetables on hand! Add some parsnips that I had a few too many of (I didn’t realize that was even *possible*, last year!), and some carrots, brown in the bottom of the stockpot in some oil, and then add plenty of water to make the stock. I also added a leftover cooked butternut squash half we weren’t going to eat. Transfer to the freezer and make matzoh ball soup later, or add to stews and sauces.

Simple Vegetable Broth

  • 5 carrots
  • 3-4 parsnips
  • celery greens
  • leek tops
  • parsley stems
  • any other vegetable that’s getting tired or even already cooked
  • 5 quarts of water
  • salt
  • 2 Tb oil

Brown the vegetables in the oil, letting them develop some good brown spots. Then add about 5 quarts of water and let simmer for 2 hours or so until it tastes good. Spoon broth into containers through a sieve, refrigerate, and freeze. You can reserve the parsnips and carrots to eat – they’ve given a lot of their flavor to the broth, but still have a bit and I presume a bit of nutritional value, so why throw them out?

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I may not have the whole farmhouse from-scratch operation running smoothly, and I may never keep chickens in the backyard, but making good use of what I have and not throwing away perfectly good food are goals I am getting better at. Here’s a snapshot of my almost-efficient fish machine at work, after 18 deliveries of whole fish since June.

This week’s whole fish was 2 small cod, and I pounced right on it for a second shot at preserving and drying my own salt cod. I’ve done a trial run once before, and now I’m looking forward to the 2nd batch being usable for Christmas Eve. So here’s what became of the fish over the next several days:

Day 1: I clean and fillet the fish, winding up with

  • fish skins (sadly, must toss, or find a friend who wants to feed their cats raw fish. My usual suspect wasn’t up to this this time, so I tossed the.)
  • fish fillets – to cook, or in this case, preserve with salt (they get coated in salt for a day and change, then rinsed and left to dry in the fridge for a week.)
  • fish spine(s) with head, tail, and plenty of meat on it, because I am not an expert at filleting
  • I reserved the scrappier bits of the fillets to make a little bit of plain fish for K, who requested that it not all be turned into bakalar (as we call salt cod in our house).

Day 2:
Make fish broth with the spines and heads. This is a quick-cooked broth – I put the fish in cold water with bay leaves, salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar, then bring slowly to a boil, let it boil 10 minutes afterwards, and turn off the heat.

After pouring off the broth, pull cooked meat off the fish carcasses into a storage container, removing small bones as I go. This week’s cooked meat mostly went into cod-salad sandwiches with melted cheese. I mix shredded cooked cod with mayonnaise, celery, seasonings; basically pretending it came out of a can of tuna and go from there. I sometimes put it into fish cakes, or freeze to use later for these purposes or add back into soup.

Also, the scrappy bits of fillets that I saved went into a small person’s serving or two of fried fish (and more than a serving of french fries to go with, for all of us!)
I’ll probably make miso soup with some of the broth. The rest is in the freezer. If there’s an Armageddon soon, we’re all covered for miso soup.

My 6+ lbs of whole cod (2 small fish worth) gave me 2.2lbs of fillets, plus a bit under a pound of cooked shredded fish meat, and about 4 quarts of fish broth. I would probably have gotten more fillets off of one large fish, but somewhat less broth.

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